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Satellite shows military convoy near disputed Sudanese region

The Harvard-based Satellite Sentinel Project has released new images today which appear to show heavy military activity near the disputed border region of Southern Kordofan, where more than 73,000 civilians have fled fighting since early June:

Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has identified through analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery captured on 4 July 2011 an apparent Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) convoy travelling through Kadugli town consistent with an at least regiment-sized unit, which is equal to approximately 1000 troops. The convoy is at least 2km in length, and could be potentially longer. There are at least 80 vehicles visible in the apparent convoy, including 49 light vehicles, cargo trucks, a vehicle consistent with a fuel or water tanker, heavy transports and towed artillery. The convoy is of significant size and appears to be heading to the north, though its origin, destination and total length remains unknown.

Additionally, a heavy transport plane consistent with an Iluyshin 76 (Il-76) is visible on 4 July at the Kadugli airstrip with a mass of people and/or material gathered near the plane. Two helicopters consistent with Hind Mi-24 helicopter gunships and a plane consistent with an Antonov 24/26 are visible as well. To the west of Kadugli, a known SAF installation has apparently been recently fortified and multiple occupied and unoccupied artillery firing positions are visible.

Southern Kordofan, which has some of the most productive oil fields in the country, is north of what will become the border between the two Sudans when the south formally declares independence on Saturday. Khartoum has been accused of targeting the Nuba people -- who live in the region and fought in large numbers with the South during Sudan's 22-year civil war -- in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. (Dan Morrison's FP piece from last month provides a lot of useful background on the conflict.) 

See more of SSP's latest images here.


Satellite Sentinel Project